Monday, June 27, 2011

Info Insurgency Now!

Maine BOW$H campaign next meeting: Sat July 16 following the Old Hallowell Days parade.

We had a rocking good meeting in Maine yesterday to plan the Bring Our War $$ Home Care-a-Van starting on 9/11. We hope to buy or borrow an actual van that will transport people from one event to another for thirty days, with two goals in mind.

First goal: support our representatives in Congress to continue voting no on war funding, and speaking out about the need to end the wars right now. The second: raise consciousness about the connection between war spending and budget cuts at home, and how individuals are being affected. “Most people don't know how much of the federal budget goes to the military,” someone said, waving around a visual that pegged it at 56%.

Both our reps in the House seem to know, and have been consistent no votes on the war supplemental bills, and even voting against the big Defense Authorization annual funding bill recently. Both of them expressed disappointment at President Obama's tepid speech promising to take a year and a half to withdraw most of the troops he surged into Afghanistan. Last year we heard Chellie Pingree tell her boyfriend at the Common Ground Fair about the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign, “These people are everywhere.”

We plan to keep it up, so the Care-a-Van will visit the Fair, which falls each year on the weekend nearest the autumnal equinox. It's a big destination for tourists, old hippies, granolas (their children), crunchy granolas (their grandchildren), and just generally lots of people who enjoy growing or eating organic local foods.

Some of you might think that bringing the BOW$H campaign presence to the Common Ground Fair is preaching to the choir. But some of you would be wrong.

After our three hour session generating ideas and kicking around dates, van ideas (“Could it run on vegetable oil?) and event ideas (free medical clinics, supporting indigenous people's land use initiatives, reaching out to returning vets who are coming home to no jobs and no, well, homes) some of us stayed for a wildly inspired movie about people using their creative abilities to fuel activism. Cultures of Resistance was so amazing that three people immediately asked to screen it in their local communities. About fifty of us also saw a short film on the Gaza Freedom March, and I gave a report from Ridgely Fuller, a passenger on the current flotilla that has been stuck in Greece waiting to sail. (Looks like it is about to come unstuck -- short interview with Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK and a glimpse of Ridgely in Athens' Syntagma Square on Democracy Now! coverage of the flotilla).

We left feeling energized and ready for the steps to take our campaign beyond last week's mayors' resolution win.

We had dinner with friends that evening, following a memorial service for a beloved neighbor who passed away during the winter. A small group of people who have known each other for decades, and watched each other's children grow up. Most work as educators in some kind of way, or in media. All are affluent white folks who have had the opportunity of a college education.

There was talk of technology, of travel past and future, and the fact that I was headed to California the next day prompted Mark to mention that hot particles are turning up in automotive air filters in Washington State. Our friends were alarmed at this news. What? Why? What's going on in Washington?

I assume it's from Fukushima, Mark said.

What's Fukishima? one of them said.

It's the nuclear power plant that melted down – is still melting down – in Japan, we said.

Oh. Ok, they had heard of that disaster. But isn't it over by now?

No, it's still burning through the floor of the container vessels, said Mark. And plutonium is never over, at least not in a human lifetime.

But how do you know about this? I haven't read anything about this – have you? Everybody shook their heads. No, nothing. Not on NPR. Not in the New York Times. Why not? they wondered.

Corporations control the media, I said. GE owns one of the big networks, said Mark. NBC, someone said. And someone else asked, Why does that matter?

GE built the reactors that are melting down, I said. They may have a lot of liability there. I also read that Australia stopped official monitoring of radiation in seafood this week, I added, like the U.S. stopped doing on the West coast months ago.

You two know too much, one of our friends said fondly, as if we were wayward children who would insist on opening Pandora's box.

Before I got on the plane this morning we had breakfast with a young member of the family who's been thinking a lot about peak oil and the future of energy for his generation. The bottom line: all the wars in the world won't avert the crash of our unsustainable lifestyle.

He shared a recent “aha” moment about propaganda and the so-called information age's dearth of, well, information.

Almost all music videos that get played are only about three things, according to his analysis: selling drugs to make a lot of money, spending money on “a bunch of crap that really has no value,” and commiting acts of senseless violence. “All things that will lead to getting locked up in prison,” he said. He was a bit amazed at this apparent master plan, as if the curtain had slipped for a moment, affording him a glimpse of The Man spinning out the illusion. Later our conversation veered into the national epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and the effects of advertising on eating habits. He had become aware of his own response to ads for products to consume, noting the craving that seemed to bubble up spontaneously after viewing.

Everyone thinks they're immune to propaganda, he said, but they're not.

Does an education offer any protection from propaganda? we wondered.

As for myself, I used to think so. But I really don't think so anymore.

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